Support and stability are one of the most important features in a basketball shoe. This is even more important because unfortunately, the top, most renowned performance footwear and sportswear company in the world has released basketball shoes with poor support for years on end now.
While everybody has different needs and looks for a plethora of different features in basketball shoes, Nike has continuously failed to consistently release basketball shoes with ample support and stability. Read below for further details into specific models.
LeBron 15, 17, and 18
All three of these more “recent” signature LeBron’s all feature the same flaw—poor stability. The actual containment of the Battleknit in the 15 and 17 was ample enough for most players, however, the shoe lacked a wide, stable base, and failed to utilize outriggers, concluding its failure to provide ample stability. Rolling your ankle is one of, if not the most common injuries a basketball player can experience. And, the type of shoe a player chooses to wear can help prevent this. The LeBron 15 and 17 had such terrible stability (because they sat high off the ground and the 15 didn’t feature outriggers), that LeBron actually had to wear PEs that featured a trimmed down, lower to the ground tooling, with outriggers. And of course, Nike opted NOT to give consumers these very crucial support features in the retail pairs.
Photo comparing the LeBron 15 PE’s outriggers to the general release pair featuring no outriggers.
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images.
Photo comparing the LeBron 17 PE and retail pair showing the thickness of the midsoles.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images.
The LeBron 18 falls under the same issues as the 15 and 17, but even worse. The shoe lacks the crucial outriggers that the 15 and 17 didn’t feature, but the upper materials don’t contain the foot enough laterally, and the midsole over compresses on lateral movements too. Luckily, the 15 and 17’s uppers contained the foot enough laterally and the midsoles didn’t over compress on lateral movements. The real flaw those two shoes featured were the lack of outriggers for its high ride. However, the LeBron 18 doesn’t feature an outrigger AND over compresses on lateral movements, and the upper has poor lateral containment. LeBron’s 18 PEs feature trimmed down, lower to the ground heel Air bags too. Literally the worst of the worst. It’s such ashame too because the LeBron 18 is one of the bounciest cushioning setups I’ve ever tried. I won’t be doing a review on the shoe because of this.
Photos displaying the thickness difference between the LeBron 18 PE that LeBron James wears to the general release pair.
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images.
Side by side photo displaying the thickness difference between the LeBron 18 PE that LeBron James wears to the general release pair.
For those that have kept up with The Sneaker Brief for at least since the beginning of the Summer, you likely already know how I feel about the KD 13. Quite possibly one of the worst shoes I’ve ever put on my feet. It’s ironic because I absolutely loved the cushioning set-up in them, but yet again, just like the LeBron’s, you sacrifice cushion for stability. I don’t remember where the specs are online about the KD 13’s height off the ground and its offset, but I remember when I saw it, that it was pretty normal. While this may be true, to me, on foot, they just felt really high off the ground. They also lack an outrigger which led to the shoe’s poor lateral stability. The cherry on top are that once the materials fully break in after a while, they can hardly contain your foot on those hard lateral movements. This results in the wearer’s foot sliding out of the footbed.
Photos of Cole Anthony and Pascal Siakam’s feet rolling out of the KD 13’s footbed.
Believe it or not, I actually tried so hard to like this shoe. When the shoe first released, I copped the Gatorade GE colorway, as well as the first “Black Ice” general release colorway. The cushioning set-up just sounded and looked so intriguing, thus I was hyped for them. However, once I tried them on and started playing, this all changed. I didn’t even do a review on this shoe simply because they are plain terrible. The textile mesh upper couldn’t contain my foot laterally. My foot was literally rolling out of the footbed. This is a huge problem because I’m only 135 pounds and don’t exert much force into my steps as much as other players do.
The fact that Paul George, sorry, Playoff P, didn’t even wear the shoe during the Bubble just proves how terrible of a shoe they were. The midsole rides super high off the ground and doesn’t have an outrigger so in addition to the upper not being able to contain my foot, the midsole also over compressed on lateral movements since the foam used in the shoe was on the softer side. The general consensus of the shoe’s performance is pretty clear among those that actually wore these somewhat extensively: they SUCK. They also don’t feature a midfoot shank plate, so they have practically no torsional support and rigidity.
Photos of Matisse Thybulle’s PG 4 over compressing laterally and his foot sliding out of the footbed of the shoe.
Air Zoom BB NXT
I actually had a really fun experience playing in these. The cushion was fantastic, as was the fit, lockdown, and traction. So, then you’re probably wondering, why are they in this article then? Well it’s because again, I’m 135 pounds and I don’t exert as much force into my steps as other players do. So, while this shoe over compressed on lateral movements and sits really high off the ground, leading to poor stability for most people, my experience wasn’t a deal breaker. I definitely wasn’t as confident in my steps as I am in other shoes, but I never experienced a “scary” moment where I thought I thought I was going to roll my ankle. If this shoe just sat lower to the ground, they could have been one of the best basketball shoes Nike has ever put out. But, because they don’t, they’re one of the worst basketball shoes Nike has released the past few years.